Using sketches for creating sculpture is often a great tool. Its also very cool to see a 2-d image emerge into a 3-d one!
The sketches I make are chaotic, placed in various notebooks between two studios, and in no particular order. They encompass lots of ideas, notes, web research and symbolism.
The above pics are of the works recently worked on: Orchidea Imaginarium (2020) and the Crystalis series (2021). Below is the beginning sketches for a figurative series I will be working on next year. And like the sketches, that new series is roughly hewn not even fully downloaded yet...
Then onto some more botanical sculpture ideas below that I am playing with.....
In my mind many are in a time of big transition and challenges. Where some are losing dreams and homes and lives, others are struggling with that which is more ethereal -feelings and emotions.
I have found for myself that difficulties provide ripe ground for change. With the attitude of moving forward even a time of suppression or depression can motivate. Our self made wisdom springs us forward.
Yet in doubt a person of worth will trust their own wisdom. TOLKEIN
As an artist in the visual arts, I have had many challenges in my life. Now is my time to move forward, to take risks and to forge new directions despite the outcomes.
Approaching new galleries, leaving old patterns, using new mediums and entering competitions is intuitive for me at this point of my life. As illogical a time it may appear according to the news!
I suppose most artists do this when they are younger and fresher out of the doorways of college or high school. For me, who has had so many set backs and failures it is coming later in life.
When an artist approaches new venues to push their work forward into, it is personal. How can one be an observer when that which you create is so dug from the subconscious of who you are? Learning to accept and detach from rejection -an inevitable part of any big shift- can be such a tricky and wonderful lesson. I like to think that when I don't make it into that gallery or that new potential its merely the wrong fit but certainly worth the effort.
Sometimes a little denial is necessary to forge ahead. A gentle fog to block the harsh realities all around. So I always build up a bit of steam, even a bit of fantasy in my head to move into new fields of experience.
A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities. TOLKEIN
And to never stop hoping, approaching and changing. I believe that the definition most suitable for hope is that what you dream of is coming, just don't stop dreaming it.
Hope is the thing in feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. Emily Dickinson
Lastly I want to say something about my own doubt. What is it to be an artist? Sometimes I think that making things that are stagnant and gather dust is a pointless direction but the compulsion to make is still there feeding me image after image.
No matter how many people say absurdities like,
'you are so talented!', or 'that is so beautiful I wish I could have/buy it', 'I don't have a creative bone in my body'...
...the final deciding thoughts on oneself and their craft is the only opinion that counts. The words and thoughts echoing thru my brain are the ones most affecting me physically and psychically.
It can be confusing to have the voices of society, a capitalist social consciousness society in many aspects, speaking its drudgery in my senses. It takes a strong will and a wise person to break those bonds and know what is best for oneself.
MERMAIDS: I love mermaids, who doesn't!!!? see my SEAWOMEN page. I have this saying....if you ever need to make money as an artist, make naked women! I know its a bit sad....naked men are just as cool to me in my living room- see FORESTMEN. But most of our society seems to deem women and only certain kinds of women apparently, beautiful.
This week I am taking a break from sculpture to paint a mermaid commission for my aunt and her beach house.
We were talking one day and found we both liked the same mermaid artist Victor Nizovtsev. So I began to paint this one. She is only about 5 layers in but its been great fun! I am not a professional painter but love stretching out into that field and learning new challenges.
She will have 22k gold scales in her last firing and a custom built frame. I will post pics of her when finished next month.
After 35 years of selling my artwork in many different ways: farmers markets, wholesale, garden stores, galleries, retail outlets, on the side of the road, fairs and more, an Artists' coop was a good fit. For six years I have participated in and been co-owner of Splash Gallery in Olympia, WA. It was a great experience. Working a coop has so many rewards they often diminish the challenges.
Splash has been in business for 7-8 years. Started by artists who had a wonderful dream, It survived the recession and the Pandemic. With its rotating artists and waterfront location it was a great place to be in Olympia. Often ignored by 'professional artists' and big galleries, Splash has the distinction of winning 'Best of The Northwest' twice in its existence. I feel this is due to its approachable atmosphere that makes a larger array of people feel comfortable coming in and experiencing art.
There are many advantages to a artist coop. One can show more of their work without the constraints of a gallery owner's direction. An artist can remove and place artwork without checking in or at any particular time....it was a freeing feeling! I was able to show nudes which cannot be done in smaller towns and many venues. I loved meeting fellow artists and working together on projects. In addition, It was fun to meet the buyers of my work. And I was inspired when I needed a little boost.
However the pressures of running a gallery and the differing opinions of how to do this can be a strain. I learned how much work all those gallery owners out there put into their shops and exhibits. I learned about who my customers were, but often had to be a source of entertainment to them. This venue though approachable by a large diversity of folks was a very hard place to show and sell large works. It's gift gallery atmosphere was conductive to sales but not exhibits. I learned that those who do most the work in a coop often struggle with control and the balance of hearing everyone involved....in my opinion inclusiveness is a key ingredient to holding a group together.
In the end I had to leave. My work evolved and I and it....began to 'not' fit. My need to make art and seclude myself....far outweighed my need to make production wares, sell artwork or interact with other people. I am grateful to the gallery and what it taught me, and to the other artists who have been there and continue to keep the dream alive.
My hope for the future of my work is to continue to find brick and mortar spaces that are good partnerships in fine art. And with the pressures of modern changes, to find ways to jump on the bandwagon of digital connections as well.
You can continue to see my work here and I hope soon to sell online as well (my lifestyle is not conductive to that just yet). You may also see ongoing pieces sold thru:
A Million projects...
Before our famous rain starts in the northwest, I have been taking a break in the studio and building stuff! This is also an effort towards improving my quality of living- which has been very primitive for almost 12 years. Following my own moral codes, those choices are an effort to be debt free and a low impact on the land and resources.
These last few months I installed gas lines with the help of my dad and then paid for a tank to be installed....And of course I had to rush out and camoflauge it with a simple paint job.
I started a 18 ft rock foundation wall out of lightweight concrete, each rock hand formed with painted moss and crystals.
Also added to the list was a arbor for the solar panels and mini water trough with handmade lid for'country' hot tub.
Then last week I did something new! Being an artist has many applications, so I helped at my little brothers wedding to make flowers arrangements, garlands, and swags....
While I continue my VERA FLOS series of wildflowers on mini underworlds, I have added crystals and geodes to the action.
Nature makes such perfect beautiful things, and it seems silly to human make them in a secondary less perfect way. That doesn't stop us creators does it!?
In my obsessive and creative approach to flowers right now, I can't seem to stop adding elements to the finished work. There are insects, animals, rocks, plants all flowing around one another. SO why not add crystals?
These geodes are porcelain and will have crystal and gold linings. The ones below are test samples for a few additional VERA FLOS pieces. Look out for them soon!
A Clutter of SPIDERS!
When showing my work to friends and acquaintances the last few years I have been told often that my spiders, snakes, and black elements will not sell well. Its amazed me! No they do sell well, everything sells to the right audience. You just have to place your work in the right venue.
I am bartering with a fellow artist and she asked for a white garden 'crab' spider. That set me off onto a big batch of spider sculptures. They are so fun to make and yes....play with! Here is the first and second firing of the cluster of spiders...
After the final layers of fired paint, they will receive some joints (special glue knobs) and then hand painted legs and a sealant layer.
Pagan Goddess Commission 2021
Its a very rare thing for me to do a commission these days, but I love doing them. As most folks who have done commissions know, it can be tricky. You can make a custom order and the customer doesn't like the results, or you can finish a piece and it was misunderstood what the price was.
So I found writing it all down is very important. A simple agreement or contract for paid commissions seems to be a good idea. I ask for 50% payment down and will make two options if the work isn't too odd or unsaleable on the open market. I keep the 50% if the customer doesn't want the work- though they usually do.
But my favorite way to do custom work is to barter! I have never had issues in this way. Its been a pleasure for me in placing a unique customer based idea into physical reality.
Above is a pagan goddess with fern antlers and lichen hair. She holds whatever one wants to place in her hands(though I am throwing in a few goodies that can work) After this greenware stage she will be fired, glazed partially and then china painted with many layers.
For more than five years I have been developing methods to make the images in my head! Its taken the discovery of the right clay bodies, mediums, materials, equipment and techniques to make my sketchbooks come alive. At last all the elements have come together!
I found an excellent porcelain clay body for transparency and painting. After much experimentation I use a map gas torch for the copper work and recently added a butane torch to my studios to produce more minute and delicate flowers and stems. And finally, I have figured out the best ways to apply the china paints, thru sanding and layers. Its been very long trek!
Using these methods I have prepared a series of wildflower sculptures to follow closely on the heels of the Tulips Imaginarium series. Miniature pansies, violets, daisies and grasses are being put together in little 4-8 inch stems with hand cut copper leaves the size of your fingernail! Its been a delight and a huge challenge.
Because there is a lot of sanding in painting biscuit ware (or unglazed ware as I call it) there is a fine balance to sculpting the flowers fine enough to be translucent but strong enough to endure up to 6 sandings throughout the many firings. The pansies and violets, no bigger than 3/4 inch total were the finest petals to sculpt so far.
These sculptures are like Botanical drawings in Porcelain including many 'nature companions'.
In the Past I have found it so useful to read what other artists and craftspeople make and how they make it.
So I thought I would share the materials I use and where I get them. It has not been easy to find everything I need to make this work and in some cases has taken years to establish where and how to do it. I order almost nothing online as I believe in keeping local stores open.
CLAY BODIES (cone 6)
1. English Grolleg Porcelain from Clayart center in Puyallip, WA:
-used for: Black and White works(like Seawomen series)
-A easier to sculpt porcelain, but with a creamier look. Does not work well with China paints because it doesn't vitrify at cone 6
2. New Zealand Porcelain From Clayart Center:
-used for china painted sculpture
- hard to sculpt, though more plastic than some other porcelains I have tried....and haven't managed to make anything over 14 inches yet
3. Newcomb & Soldate 60 (Laguna): I am just trying these two out for more traditional sculpting
MS-29 Laguna Clear:
I use only clear glaze. My favorite for years was an old coveted jug of pink glaze from Duncan. It probably had lead in it but it was beautiful and easy to use. I now use Black and White works(like Seawomen series) :. But it is chunky and grey going on so its hard to monitor the layers. It is reliable for use with high kaolin porcelain like New Zealand from Clayart center and can be bought in most ceramic stores.
10 sizes of refer tube and wire: Home Depot (bulk ground wire and coils of refer tubing)and Ace hardware(smaller gauges)
Copper Sheet: .008 x 12x18 is size I used for most foliage. I bought the cutting tool and sheets(in 2 thicknesses) at Hobby Lobby.
2 part epoxy(not the gorilla kind)- HD or Ace
epoxy putty-HD or Ace
judikins diamond glaze-hobby lobby and michaels: use for knobs on insect legs
E6000- HD, Ace, Michaels, etc.
Estate sales, china painting expos, Maryland China
High fire Wire and Dremel Parts: I sometimes order from manufacturer or big distributors. I use the EZ lock 320 grit buffing wheels so order a lot at a time.
A friend and I were talking on the phone one night and we joked around about the insects I was making. She lives in Texas and cockroaches and cicadas are common there. Two Insects I don't see much living in Washington.
I was telling her about the cicadas and their pupae I was crafting and didn't think would sell well-especially the Pupae!!!! She mentioned that cockroaches were certainly not a favorite. As we were talking I suggested the cockroaches would be more marketable 'having tea'. She immediatly ordered a set! It made me laugh!
See it was marketable!!!!